Wednesday, November 07, 2007

English Speakers Abound in Sweden

The Swedes love English. They will speak it at the drop of a hat. I often dress very much like an American. That is to say that I’m not a big fan of the pants that show off way too much of my anatomy and the shirts that look like they could be my girlfriends.

On a side note, one of the free newspapers here runs a section where they stop people on the street and ask them where they get their clothes. Which, in my opinion, is a very shallow thing to do but somehow strangely Swedish when you think of the fashion sense the Swedes seem to pride themselves on. Regardless, the newspaper printed a quick little section on a very Swedish looking fellow in Stockholm. He was wearing designer jeans that he probably had to peel off, he was wearing a scarf despite it being the middle of the summer, and his shoes were Chuck Taylor’s. Fair enough. Not really my style but fine. The kicker was the shirt. It was his girlfriend’s. Yup. He was wearing his girlfriend’s shirt. He didn’t say, oh this shirt is from H&M, which would have been a safe answer because the question was where the clothes were from, not who owned them. Nope. He told all of Stockholm that he was wearing his girlfriend’s shirt. I would stretch the hell out of my girlfriend’s shirt if I wore it around town.

Anyway, back to dressing like an American. My cousin says I dress big. Whatever that means. But maybe I do. Countless times I have walked into stores, restaurants, places of business and been greeted with English, “Hello, how can I help you” stuff like that. I seem to confuse people when I go right into Swedish. Sometimes I take it as a bit of an insult. I have worked hard to speak Swedish well so I don’t want to speak English to Swedes. But really the Swedes just want to use their English.

They start learning the language in elementary school and basically study it all through their educational careers. You’d be hard pressed to find a Swede who doesn’t speak English. Especially in Stockholm. Swedish TV is dominated by English speaking programming. English slang is used everywhere. With even little kids saying “shit” and “fuck” which still throws me for a loop (I always have this overwhelming desire to grab them and wash their mouths out with soap). Movies are shown here in their original languages so English language movies just have subtitles.

English is everywhere. Which might be why this country is so attractive to people who want to move to Europe but just don’t want to move to English speaking Europe. They want that feeling of being in a different country with a different language without having to worry too much about getting around. And that’s fair enough. Just remember though, if you make the move at least make an effort to get a base knowledge. It helps. And you won’t miss out on so much, like the news, and funny conversations people have on the trains, and what in the hell the bus driver is saying on the horrible intercom.

17 comments:

  1. i hate when i cant understand the tram driver too!...as for the way people dress here, i am sometimes confused by it too, the men especially but actually in the past year i have lived here i actually dress like a swede and i realize i like it better then when i lived in the usa...anyways...what state are you from over there?

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  2. I also want to feel comfortable in my clothes, not too tight. Then again, I'm not from here.

    I've had different experience with Swedes and their skills in English. The older the worse, but even some 20-something don't want to use English at all.

    I'm here to experience Swedish also in spoken, so using English is always the last way of making myself understood.

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  3. I'm a Colorado boy.

    Maybe it just takes some time to get used to the tight clothes. But I've been here for about 5 months now and I really am still a big fan of the looser jeans.

    smek this, you're right some of the older swedes struggle with the english. but I haven't run in to any young swedes who haven't jumped at the chance to speak english.

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  4. my husband also wears the looser jeans and he's a swede. says he cant imagine trying to walk in them. in fact yesterday i walked behind a guy with tight pants on and he was walking funny. took everything i had not to laugh. i was wondering what was getting crushed..lol

    colorado huh? its beautiful there..im from Pennsylvania near Philadelphia

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  5. seriously, they walk like something could be forever crushed if they step wrong. and that's just no good.

    I've actually never been to Pennsylvania. It's on the list. Mostly because of the history.

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  6. Pa history is great. We have a lot of amish there....we have philly and gettysburg, hersheys factory!and the thing with hersheys is the amusement park and the fact that the whole town smells like chocolate and all the street lights are little hershey kisses..lol

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  7. like a real life candyland! somehow though the history grabs my attention more than the candy ever could...

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  8. I wish the Swedes would speak Swedish more. I think when I go there, I'll pretend to be French and just speak that. That'll get the Swedish out!

    As for the jeans...I like the men in tight jeans. Tall, athletic, slender men should wear tight jeans. It is really hot. But not too tight; I'm not the one with crushed parts though. LoL

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  9. seriously, don't go with german though, theres a lot of them that know that language too.

    and the pants... there seem to be too many guys here that have crossed that line into crushing things rather than flaunting things. and that's just not good.

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  10. My (swedish) boyfriend recently told me : "only gay guys dress well in New York". I guess that says a lot about swedish dressing code, guys are more "feminine" than in the US obviously. I actually feel really weird when my boyfriend is wearing really tight pants and a tanktop!!!!!!!

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  11. I think it's a little disconcerting. But you're right, it definitely gives you an idea as to what Swedish men wear in this country. Whatever floats your boat I guess, but the male get-up that is worn here just doesn't really appeal to my fashion senses. Or lack thereof.

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  12. Hej, lol I am just here getting to a Viking (wike-ing) I do not understand the "droop-extravaganza" I like tight jeans too....

    Mrs. Osmaark

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  13. it seems that quite a few women like the tight pants

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  14. It´s sooo true... We like to speak english, it´s fun. My friends and I talk in english for the sake of fun. I´m 16 years old and all the teacher say that the Enlish NP (NP=Nationela Proven) is more simple than the Swedish ones and it´s true, sometimes I start to talk Svengelska (Swedish/English) and I even start to sing in english when I´m home alone in the morning ;) But I will never stop having fun using my favourite language SWEDISH! <3 (And sometimes I just want to drag my brother into the bathroom and shove a soap into his mouth when he says stuff like Fuck you.) ;)

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  15. see and I think thats whats most iportant, that regardles, the Swedish language lives on.

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  16. Hey i moved 2 sweden 8 months ago :) I am swedish but Ive been living abroad all my life so it's a big change. :S

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  17. hope everything is going well for you and you are adjusting!

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